Posts belonging to Category Cabernet Franc



The Fall, Rise and Fall of Beaujolais

she ruled the 60s

she ruled the 60s

Beaujolais has been forgotten more often than whatshisname. Beauj wines were top shelf in the 14th century until the Burgundy farmers chased the Gamay Noir grape – crossed with the blessed Pinot Noir – and its wannabe producers south. Gamay lost its prestige in the wake of Marie Antoinette’s gehackt kopf.

Gamay grown south of Burgundy can produce a lovely light to medium weight red wine with floral qualities and the requisite acid to buck it all up. Until the 1960s. Yearning for fanfare the Beaujolais producers led by Georges Dubouef came up with Beaujolais Nouveau which became fashionable as Twiggy. And half as interesting. This pompy silly era was Fall #1 for Beaujolais in the Modern Era: Beaj Nouveau. Like the Beatles, still popular.

The Rise. In 2006 the earth around Beaujolais began to move. Suddenly, gratefully, amidst an avalanche of rocketing collector prices and the relentless quest to win a Parker 100 point score, Beaujolais winemakers began producing some very nice wines. The value quotient (VQ) was an island in a sea of [ed. better metaphor please] an outpost in a wilderness of [ed. not wilderness] an outpost in the back country of forgotten appellations. Gamay returned to wine snobs. The 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages were superb. The ten crus offered more variety than Bourdeaux along with far better pricing and far more availability. Superb Gamay cru wines were priced near $15. Beaujolais was on the RISE.

Fall #2. The 2008 economic crash took about 18 months for Parker and the Wine Speculator to concede the 100 point game was over. Tostado. This should have been the tipping point when Beaujolais secured its new position as leader in the quality and value game. But it did not. Instead, the producers raised prices. Dumb. Da Dumb. Dumb. The market was in their hands… and they let it slip away. The last vintages we bought were 2009 2010. We are tasting through them now with no plans to replenish.

Very good Beaujolais costs close to $30. At the same time we are buying outrageously great Chablis for the same price. And super Red Burg for the same price and up to $10 more… except we are buying wines Beaujolais will never become, except for Clos de la Roilette which we still buy. Welcome to the new top shelf.

Here are two more wines from the Not Ready For Prime Time Tasting.

Ridge-Montebello-00WEB2000 Ridge Montebello $120: A-L-M-O-S-T R-E-A-D-Y. At 14 years this wine can be enjoyed. Ridge Montebello is regarded as the Lafite of US wines. Justifiably so. This wine was gorgeous, not voluptious, not lean. Classically beautiful, something like Lauren Bacall. Perfect California mountain blend with just enough oak to give it the classic style. Last domestic Cabernet we had like this was the 1987 Dunn Howell in mag. Dunn is more rustic. Montebello more refined. Truly spectacular wine and not Bordeaux. Honestly. At $120 and being the benchmark for California GREATNESS in wine, this is a bargain. 13.5%

Tondonia-91WEB1991 Lopez de Herredia Tondonia $105 (sorry, it’s a secret for now): tBoW asked Goldun will this wine be ready in another 10 years? “Maybe 100” came the comeback. 23 years in the bottle and the color is not even golden. Yellow as a five year old Chablis. Flavors enchanting but the wine is n-o-t r-e-a-d-y. We must have another bottle taking into account predicted auto-longevity and the likelihood I will be around to enjoy with the Geezer Troop. 13%

Maybe this could also be “the discrete charm of the Beaujolais?” Cue the electric sitars please. It’s all… so beautiful.

Red Wine with Fish and Other Blasphemies

fried for Burgundy

fried for Burgundy

Wine like all institutions has plenty of shibboleths. Red wine with red meat and white wine with white fish. Pinot with salmon. Natural wine poses an entire new set of strictures that at least make more sense than simply red meat and blanche fish. Ask your doctor. Don’t look back something might be gaining on you. Buy low sell high. It is what it is. Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. Once upon a time in France Jerry Lewis was a comic genius.

tBoW drank a 2005 red Burgundy with a whole fried red snapper at the Santa Monica restaurant Tar & Roses. And all three were very very good: restaurant, fish and wine. Lettuce cut to the chase. We have tasted some nice wines and learned a couple things about ourself.

tortochet05WEB2005 Domaine Tortochet Gevrey Chambertins 1er Cru Les Champeaux $unk: Complemented the fried fish perfectly. The deep fry removed all the fishy flavors that we associate with snapper. The fish was prepared such that one could pick a biteful cube at a time followed by a tasty sip of French Pinot Noir. The wine was firm at 8 years with restrained – not muted – fruit. Just the way we like it. No tannins to speak of. From the French website we raided: “male, with power, firm tannins, length and lots of structure.” Mais oui! 13%

cornas07WEB2007 Tardieu-Laurent Cornas Coteaux $42: Has the name, the vineyard, the vintage, all the pedigree. Well made wine with good flavors in harmony. Soft and seductive. But… we realized we are not fans of red Rhone grapes. There are exceptions such as the CORE wines from Orcutt which focus on Mourvedre. We have had most memorable Rhone reds but right now, in this long moment, we would not hurry to purchase any red Syrah wines from the Rhone. Blasphemous. 13%

anacapa04WEB2004 Rusack Anacapa Santa Barbara County $TAFI: Rusack is an under-the-radar winery for dimwitted wine snobs like tBoW. We think of Rusack and we think of the Wrigleys of which Mrs. Rusack is a member. Hey. Of course we know there are plenty of scions and high-ons and silly wealthy folks in the wine industry. But Wrigley? As in the oldest baseball park in the USA, chewing gum, the Chicago Cubs, and “26 miles across the sea Santa Catalina is waiting for me.” So we are impressed with the name. Now we are unexpectedly impressed with this wine. You know the situation. Good friend pulls the cork on taboo wine – in this case a Cabernet blend. We pinch our mental nose and take a sip of the Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot meritage. We would guess this blend is Merlot dominant with the soft rich fruit, and the absence of Cabernet Sauvignon chocolate and tannins. “Please sir can we have some more” we asked in our best Oliver voice? Picked up by our host at the historic 2005 Santa Barbara Wine Festival held at Santa Barbara’s El Paseo right around this time nine years ago. More blasphemy! 14%

coreGB10WEB2010 CORE Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc $18: David Corey can’t get any respect. He has been turning top dog wines from well over a decade. He gets the high point reviews. He has a clique of devoted fans who consistently purchase his stuff. Some of the name reviewers visit his Orcutt tasting room and anoint his wines with 90+ points. Yet most wine people in the know [ed. you know who they are?] never heard of this label. This wine was pretty green at first. We applied immediate glass-to-glass aeration. About half a dozen sloshing pours later the fruit was able to collect itself and emerge in a full melon robe of moderate weight. This was lovely. We may have lost our taste for Syrah [ed. you could see it coming] but we remain loyal and hopeful whenever we see white Rhone varietals. If loving New World White Rhone wines is wrong… I don’t wanna be right. Picked up by Largenez at the CORE tasting room on our recent T-day trip. U20 winnah! 14.5%

Going to a hot shot tasting this week. Notes will be taken with the report to follow.

Champs of Sports ::: Champs of Wine

Dom Moulin Aux Moines

Domaine Moulin Aux Moines

Baseball fever is here. 100 point scales for ratings wines are dumb. Can these claims be related? YES. Baseball is dreary for 162 games then suddenly it is wonderful to watch. Most wines are bad. Until you hit on one that you know will be good but it is, in fact, remarkable. Why slog through the long hot summer when you can tune in to exciting play on the diamond come October? Why slog through plonk upon plonk from TJs or Costco – and they are the best of the worst – when every bottle of wine can be like watching at least a divisional playoff game?

BUT… does the best of every region offer the same quality and excitement? We have answers.

Forget wine’s 100 point scale for “scoring” wines. It is more useful and far more interesting – not to mention more defensible methodologically – to rank regions/varietals.

RIP RnR Animal

RIP RnR Animal

(more…)

Morsi Out! Wine Re-education Time!

china_politart-3WEBThe military-aided popular ouster of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood is a defeat for hard-line movements everywhere. We have lived through many such popular movements that eventually converted to turgid repressive regimes in our brief lives: Castro’s popular uprising that liberated a nation only to create a dictatorship, Mao’s war machine that forever changed a thousands of years old culture only to install a new regimented national regime, and our own views of Santa Barbara County wines. The popular focus in that county has been on the Santa Rita Hills which is a relatively new region founded by winemaking ingenue/savant Richard Sanford who favors low alcohol Pinot Noir wines made in an Old World style was quickly upended by more successful winemakers who favor high alcohol Pinot Noirs that taste like New World Syrahs. There is much more there which we tend to forget. It is time to re-assess. (more…)

Notes On a Scorecard: New vs Old World = USC vs UCLA?

uscuclaWEBMarch Madness is everywhere. tBoW is on holiday and waiting to tee off once it stops storming. The Bruins and Trojans are looking for coaches. Turmoil is everywhere. We have tasted several very interesting wines but before we report on those there are a few other matters worth referencing. (more…)